Monday, June 13, 2011

Changing (Historical) Perspectives

If you look back to this blog's archives in late 2009, you'll see that I got into Irish Traditional Music (ITM) in October of that year, at the O'Flaherty retreat.  The focus of the retreat is a series of classes focused on your instrument of choice, but each instructor also teaches an "enrichment" class sometime during the weekend - these generally focus on stylistic or historic topics.  I distinctly remember expressing surprise to my friend Lisa that the instructors were universally knowledgeable about this sort of thing, and that I didn't generally think of musical performers as the same sort of people as musical historians.  Lisa seemed a bit surprised, and informed me that, in this corner of the music world, there was quite a bit of overlap.

I now find myself, on the eve of two-week vacation in Ireland, knee deep in a complete history of the European flute (specifically Ardal Powell's "The Flute"), which is now my Irish instrument of choice.  I find myself wondering about the links between the heavily ornamented style of Baroque Art Music and ITM, and I frequently have to stop myself, when meeting new people, from launching into a detailed explanation of how the modern Irish flute derives from the early years of Rudall and Carte and their peers, including digressions into the introduction of the Boehm system and it's relationship to the Irish peasantry's contemporary financial situation, etc., etc., etc. 

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